The Lamb of Tartary: A Petrarchan Sonnet Based on Scythian Myth

 

The Lamb of Tartary, or Borametz,
astonished Theophrastus with its birth,
emerging, not from ewe, but from the earth.
A rooted animal, it yet begets
far flocks though it oviparously sets
its seedlings out in dirt. There is no dearth
of grit to feed the creature’s modest girth
though sparse the rainfall’s sparkling rivulets.
A single stalk of vegetation links
the lamb Herodotus describes as shrub,
but Pliny (Elder) says is more a tree,
to earth. But find a Scythian who thinks
these lambs will feed a hungry tribe. The rub:
they’re cotton plants, just ovine simile.

[Nancy Brewka-Clark’s fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and drama appear in anthologies published by Red Hen Press, University of Iowa Press, Southeast Missouri State University Press, Harvard College Children’s Stories, YouthPLAYS of Los Angeles, Smith & Kraus, and Routledge, among others. She is past winner of the Helen Schaible International Sonnet Competition and the 2019 winner of the Amy Lowell Poetry Prize. Her debut book of poetry Beautiful Corpus was published in March 2020 by Kelsay Books.]

2 thoughts on “The Lamb of Tartary: A Petrarchan Sonnet Based on Scythian Myth”

  1. James and Barbara Lee said:

    What a marvellous sonnet! We have just been looking up all the references to the Lamb of Tartary, about which we knew nothing. It’s all very fascinating and you have captured the essence of the legend in an appropriately learned way. It is like listening to a traveller’s tale until, of course, until we are jolted back to earth and reality. Brava!

  2. James A Lee said:

    What a marvellous sonnet! We have just been looking up all the references to the Lamb of Tartary, about which we knew nothing. It’s all very fascinating and Nancy Brewka-Clark has captured the essence of the legend in an appropriately learned way. It is like listening to a traveller’s tale until, of course, we are jolted back to earth and reality. Brava!

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